Pontifications: Engine problems are getting worse

By Scott Hamilton

May 14, 2018, © Leeham News: The engine problems are getting worse.

These have moved beyond the technical issues with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000, GE Aviation GEnx, Pratt & Whitney GTF and CFM56.

The problems are trickling down to the maintenance, repair and overhaul shops.

LNC previously touched on the back-up in MRO shops due to the RR Trent 1000 problems, affecting even Trent 700 (Airbus A330) MRO scheduling. We’ve also reported the knock-on effect of the GTF MRO on other engine shop visits.

The mandated-inspections of CFM56 fan blades in the wake of the Southwest Airlines accident last month inundated MRO shops with unexpected visits.

Now, a European appraisal company forecasts that the “bow wave” of CFM56 shop visits will create a crisis for spare engines and parts.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Aircraft stability, Part 5

By Bjorn Fehrm

May 11, 2018, ©. Leeham News: In the last Corner, we discussed more capable autopilots used in general aviation aircraft and the Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHARS) we needed to go to more advanced autopilots.

We will now discuss the more advanced autopilots one finds in Turboprops and entry-level Business jets.

Figure 1. The Garmin G1000 Flight deck. Source: Garmin.

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Bombardier refocuses the CRJ

By Bjorn Fehrm

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May 10, 2018, © Leeham News: American Airlines last week ordered 30 additional regional jets.  Of these, 15 were the Embraer E175. No surprise there. It’s the traveler’s favourite and the market leader among US regional jets. But American Airlines also ordered the same number of Bombardier CRJ900. Why? Isn’t it a bit dated?

There are good reasons for this order and Bombardier sees a new spring for the trusted regional. We use our performance model to understand why.

  • The CRJ900 is still a good choice for the US Scope Clause regulated regional jet market.
  • Is strong economics makes it a favourite with the airline’s bean counters.
  • In addition, it has the longest cabin, enabling large First-class and Premium economy sections.
  • With programmed updates, it will be competitive for years to come.

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Etihad faces complex issues in fleet restructuring

May 9, 2018, © Leeham News: Etihad Airways faces a complex series of decisions to make as it ponders how to restructure and stem huge losses.

Market intelligence revealed last year that the airline has been pursuing a path to dispose of five Boeing 777LRs, 22 Airbus A330s, all its A340s and only a few A320 family members.

The company also wants to cancel or defer a variety of Airbus and Boeing aircraft on order.

The 777LRs are going back to its lessor. Bids from multiple parties came in for the A330s. The A340s were simply grounded.

But over-financing, credits for new airplanes on order used against newly delivered airplanes and return conditions complicate fleet restructuring plans, ballooning costs of some moves to a point where officials are having second thoughts about how to proceed.

In January, Etihad named a new chief financial officer, Mark Powers, whose long career includes stints at Frank Lorenzo’s Continental Airlines and Northwest Airlines, where bankruptcies and financial restructurings were part of Powers’ portfolio.

Powers retired from JetBlue in 2016. He has his work cut out for him.

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Single-aisle production on track for 1,800/yr

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May 7, 2018, © Leeham News: Single aisle airliner production rates are on a track to hit 1,800 per year by 2022, a new analysis by LNC concludes.

This is for aircraft of 100 seats or more. Therefore, this includes the Bombardier CS100 and its competitors the Embraer E190/195 E1/E2 at the smallest end of the 100-240-seat single-aisle markets.

The dominating companies are, of course, Airbus and Boeing. Airbus plans to increase rates of its A320 family next year to 63/mo; Boeing is going to 57/mo for the 737. Both companies are studying increasing rates to 70/mo, a figure LNC believes can be sustained through at least 2025.

Bombardier plans to go to rate 10 for its C Series, a figure that may have been difficult to achieve before BBD sold 50.01% of the program to Airbus. The deal is expected to close before the Farnborough Air Show.

For purposes of this analysis, LNC assumes the deal goes through but for identification carves out C Series as a stand-alone airplane.

COMAC and Irkut are included in the forecast.

  • A320 backlogs extend through the next decade in a greater number than Boeing’s 737.
  • 737 backlogs extend through the next decade, but many operators have yet to order the MAX to fully replace retiring 737 NGs.
  • Airbus acquisition of control of C Series program gives it a boost.
  • Embraer is a niche player in the small end of the market—for now.
  • COMAC and Irkut present little near-term threat to Airbus and Boeing.

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Pontifications: Boeing case against Airbus at WTO: appeal decision due this month

By Scott Hamilton

May 7, 2018, © Leeham News: The World Trade Organization resumes action in the European Union appeal of an adverse ruling in the Airbus illegal subsidies case filed by the US years ago, at Boeing’s behest.

This column appears at the start of the business day in Europe, before the WTO opens its hearing today. By the time the US wakes up in New York for business, today’s hearing will be over. The WTO announced today’s hearing a week ago and initially a decision on the appeal was expected, but it may not come until later this week or next.

Based on history, the WTO will probably affirm earlier decisions that Airbus benefited from illegal subsidies and hasn’t yet cured the violations (ie, repaid the subsidies). Just how sweeping this will be is a matter of speculation.

Throughout the long-running dispute, now in its 14th year, Airbus has been on the losing end of the US complaint at least on some level. The European company has won on some issues and lost on others, but the WTO found that Airbus received subsidies from EU states that violate WTO rules.

The spin from Airbus and Boeing will be along historically predictable lines.

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Bjorn’s Corner: Aircraft stability, Part 4

By Bjorn Fehrm

May 4, 2018, ©. Leeham News: In the last Corner, we discussed basic autopilots used in general aviation aircraft. The key components for such a system are shown in Figure 1.

Now we will go to more advanced autopilots. We will start with describing the sensors such autopilots need.

Figure 1. The S-TEC 30 roll and pitch two-axis autopilot. Source: Genesys.

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Demand supports rate 70/mo for A320, 737

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May 3, 2018, © Leeham Co.: With the supply chain confirming last Thursday that Airbus and Boeing are exploring single-aisle production rates of 70/mo, Airbus confirmed it was doing so during its Friday earnings call.

Boeing continues to be ambiguous, saying only there is “upward pressure” on its 737 production rates.

The supply chain, notably the engine OEMs, already has heartburn over the current rate of 60/mo and 52/mo for the A320 and 737 families respectively.


  • Engine makers CFM and Pratt & Whitney continue to have technical and production issues.
  • Airbus and Boeing each have “gliders,” though Boeing’s is a handful vs the dozens at Airbus.
  • CFM’s partner, Safran, cautions against rate 70.

Production rates will be among the topics at the Southeast Aerospace & Defence Conference next month in Mobile (AL). Click here for more information.

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India’s Spicejet big turnaround

Boeing 737-8. Boeing photo.

May 2, 2018, © Leeham News: Spicejet, the Indian low-cost airline, in its 2016-2017 Annual Report (to March 31) didn’t mince words or try to parse over its troubled history:

“Back after near shutdown. Restoring confidence. Organisational restructuring. Rising crude prices.Stiff competition. Legacy issues. We were determined to transform.”

These words are on the first page of the Annual Report.

Name another airline that is so up-front, open and candid about its past turmoil.

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Southwest accelerates 737-700 retirements

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April 30, 2018, © Leeham News: Southwest Airlines announced orders 80 Boeing 737-8s so far this year and market intelligence indicates the carrier may be far from done.

Another 60 orders may come during the year, though this trend could slow, market intelligence indicates.

The carrier is accelerating fleet retirements of its Boeing 737-700s with the orders. The latest round last week now makes Southwest the largest single customer for the MAX.

Significantly, the orders represent an up-gauging to the 8 MAX from the -700. The similarly-sized, slow-selling 737-7 MAX, of which Southwest is one of only four identified customers, is being bypassed. Southwest previously deferred delivery of 23 7 MAXes four years.

Click on image to enlarge.

Southwest historically operated its 737s for at least 25 years. Some 737-300s were 28 years old by the time they were retired and stored, according to the Airfinance Journal Fleet Tracker.

  • Strong economic business case cited to retire 737-700s.
  • 40 737-700s to be retired with concurrent deliveries.
  • Retirements occurring at earlier age.
  • Aging aircraft issues exist.

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